Home | Mission & Goals | Meeting Schedule | Search | Contact Us | Submit A Story | Links

The Story of the Mountain
Mount Saint Mary's College and Seminary

Mary E. Meline & Edward F.X. McSween

Published by the Emmitsburg Chronicle, 1911

Chapter 60 | Chapter Index

Chapter 61: 1895-1878

The following paragraphs from an elegantly written letter of a former student describe things of the time under view, and perhaps, as the writer says, "may turn out a song, perhaps a sermon":

Most Reverend Robert Seton, D.D. Titular Archbishop of Heliopolis

"Away back in the early '70's I became a student at Mt. St. Mary's, yet I still regard my journey from Mechanicstown (now Thurmont) to the College as something memorable. A stage of the colonial style drawn by a pair of steeds without a pedigree, a driver who had looked on the wine when it was yellow, a dark night, a road the counterpart of 'Feather-bed Lane," a crowd of boisterous students shouting, singing and rousing the slumbering echoes of the lowering Blue Ridge, is a composite picture that a new-comer was not like to forget. The voyage 'inter tot discrimina rerum' is ended at last, the College reached, and all are welcomed by the genial President, Father John McCloskey.

"I can still recall my first impressions of that truly good man. He was the very personification of dignified manhood; yet his good-natured smile and courtly manners lent a charm that attracted, while his paternal kindness and consideration endeared him to everyone, thus winning the affection while compelling the respect of his students. And time has deepened these impressions, for the Father John of my boyhood is still the same to me:

"A combination and a form indeed, Where every god did seem to set his seal To give the world assurance of a man!

"Who of us can forget him? That bland smile, that penetrating look, that indefinite, 'I'll see you again,' that meek, unaffected grace, are all clearly, indelibly silhouetted on our memory, recalling one of nature's noblemen, and one destined to hold a lasting place in the affections of all old Mountaineers.

"The Rev. Dr. McCaffrey, who had presided over the College for over a third of a century, was then President-emeritus; but owing to failing health took little active part in the affaire of the institution. He was the very antipodes of his successor. ' A man severe he was, and stern to view.'A veritable disciple of the old school, believing in the omnipotence of strict discipline. He was a man, too, of vast learning and a leader among men. Of my long stay at the College I have naught but pleasant memories, and the poet voices my heartfelt wish:

"O! mihi praeteritos referat si Jupiter annos!

"Holidays were exceedingly few and very far between, and the arrival of a recreation day was regarded as a most joyful event.

"Life at Mt. St. Mary's in those days had very few attractions, save for the studious. The social side of education seems to have been entirely neglected; and while there ever existed among the students a tender good-fellowship, yet they knew little of one another. There were few means of amusement, and these very restricted, while the notion obtained that' all work and no play' should be the collegians' constant watchword.

"'Twere a delightful task to investigate here the causes that gave rise to universities and colleges. Each from his own viewing point would, no doubt, declare what he deemed the proper functions of these institutions, yet I think that all must concede that our American Catholic colleges of former days paid too little attention to the needs of student life. Be this as it may, we rejoice at the change and hail the new reign as one of progress in the right direction. Hence we of the old regime regard with envious pleasure the many advantages that our successors enjoy.

"For the men of the future reign. Must have faithful souls and kindly hearts. And bone and sinew and brain.

"In the Faculty were men eminent in their several departments, men whose reputation was national as educators and scholars, and men who were likely to influence those whose privilege it was to attend their lectures. I need only mention such men as the present Bishop of Columbus (Watterson), the late Fathers McMurdie and O'Brien, Professors Lagarde, Black, Jourdan and Leloup, to convince the most sceptical that there were giants in those days. The students, too, studied very hard, but there was a great deal of energy wasted, and sometimes misdirected. Yet notwithstanding these drawbacks, our graduates were equal to the very best in the country, surpassed by none. And looking backward through the space of twenty years, and viewing men and events in the mellowing light of experience, I must say that the professors who now command my affection, the men to whom I owe something, are not they of stern mien, not they who enter the class-room clothed in ire, awe-inspiring, fear-compelling, but on the contrary they who regarded education not as a mere cramming operation, but rather a process of developing innate powers, hence considering not how much mental pabulum you had devoured, but rather the amount assimilated.

"It may be considered rash impertinence thus to criticize one's superiors, but what I have written are merely my honest convictions and 'I have naught extenuated, naught set down in malice.' My second year at College is known to history as the 'Cardinal's year'; for a distinguished Mountaineer, Most Eminent John McCloskey, recently advanced to the Cardinalate, presided at our annual commencement. When it was known that His Eminence intended to visit the Mountain, invitations were issued to all the alumni. Responses came in thick and fast promising attendance and auguring an event destined to be red-lettered in the annals of the College. Many of the letters from the older alumni were read in the refectory and proved a source of endless enjoyment to the youngsters. How these old gentlemen did draw upon their imagination for facts ! how they exaggerated the prowess and hardships of the students of their days, and how all professed undying love for Alma Mater, and gloried in the honor bestowed upon her famous son ! Great preparations and endless arrangements were made for the proper observance of this great celebration. "At length the long-looked-for day arrived and with it such a gathering of the clans as exceeded even our most extravagant anticipations. From all quarters they come, men of every age and condition flock hither to celebrate the great event, renew old friendships, forget the busy world, and

"Wear the gay tinge of youth's roses again.

A dozen bishops, a large number of priests and distinguished laymen rally at the call, and join in honoring America's first Cardinal. The proverbial hospitality of the College was taxed to its limit and every possible sleeping place was preempted by strangers. The students were quartered in the play-rooms and music hall. Yet all seemed to enjoy the little discomfort and were prepared to undergo, without murmur, any inconvenience. The night before exhibition I camped in St. Cecilia's hall, and shared with a fellow-student, who is now a distinguished college officer, the soft side of a piano lid. But we slept soundly, looking forward to the great tomorrow. This vast concourse of visitors attracted much attention, but the students were chiefly interested in the Cardinal, and busied themselves in speculation as to what manner of man he was. The reality was all we had anticipated, for his Eminence was the ideal prince. His address to the graduates was graceful and simple, yet eloquent withal; and when in his beautiful peroration he declared that what he was or might be, to Mt. St. Mary's belonged all the credit, there ensued a scene of enthusiasm that defies description. The feelings of the students found vent in cheers long and loud, old men were boys again and joined in the general rejoicing, while tradition has it that the old ceiling of the study hall, beside itself for joy, yielded to the magic influence of the moment. . . ."

1876. Early this year the President, still acting-treasurer, to pay "some small floating debts," asked authority to borrow seven or eight thousand more "in addition to the sum of ten thousand dollars for which he was authorized to execute a mortgage to Miss Anna P. Marshall," and others, both sums to be included in one mortgage for eight years. He was authorized to act according to his best judgment in raising this loan.

Dr. McCaffrey was gradually failing. Sister Raphael writes from St. Joseph's April 1, 1876, sending a small basket of "Genoese biscuits or Genl. Lee biscuits, if you choose," and hopes "they will prove palatable, for they are very nourishing. Sister Martha desires me to repeat her injunction 'that you will break only two or three pieces and put them in your coffee, for if the whole biscuit were put in at once it would become too soft.'"

On May 3 the President reported failure in obtaining the services of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia.

On May 9th a priest who years afterwards joined the Faculty and had visited the College the previous year for the first time, wrote offering one hundred dollars in prizes for essays on three theological subjects named by himself. The President was instructed to thank the donor and to announce the names of the prize-winners on commencement day. They were Edward Dullea, James O'Donohoe and George Feser, all of Brooklyn, N. Y. The prizes were forty, thirty-five and twenty-five dollars, respectively, and this is the first time in the history we find a private individual offering a prize, either to boys or to seminarians.

The Pope sent a medal to Dr. Dielman this year for meritorious musical compositions. Father O'Brien, proposing to go to Europe for his health, was granted such increase of salary as would leave him five hundred dollars for the purpose.

Dr. Patterson, College physician, died in July, and Dr. McCaffrey preached over him.

On the 7th of September the President reported that Sisters from Nazareth, Kentucky, would soon arrive to take charge of the domestic arrangements. On the 11th Father McMurdie was appointed to act as Director of the Seminary till Father O'Brien's return, and on the 19th it was decreed that those called to Sacred Orders should pass in "two tracts of Dogma and also in Moral."

On the 4th of June, 1877, it was decided that hereafter the ordinations should follow the annual retreat of the seminarians, and on July 4, "after some discussion on financial condition," it was agreed "that a competent layman be engaged for one year to assist the treasurer."

On September 10 Father Thomas Fitzgerald, afterwards Vice-President of the College, was chosen principal of the Junior Department, in place of Father Hill who had resigned, and Anthony McBride of Emmitsburg was reported by the President as engaged at five hundred dollars a year to assist the Treasurer. Fathers Hill and Hayes both left the College this summer.

Right Rev. John A. Watterson, D.D. Bishop of Columbus, Ohio Ninth President

September 17, 1877. Today Father John Ambrose Watterson '65, was elected President. Father McCloskey was made Vice-President and also Treasurer; Father O'Brien, Secretary, and Father Watterson, Prefect of Studies.

The magnetism of Father McCloskey was made evident when he introduced his young successor to the students, for while in a long address Father Watterson set forth his future policy, he failed to evoke any enthusiasm, all present being more or less affected by the speech and bearing of "Father John," not only the residents but even some strangers who happened to be present . . . ."

November 24. Today a committee clerical and lay was appointed to revise the course of studies.

Adrian Van Schalckwyck, a student of 1815, writes December 23, 1877, sending Christmas greeting to Dr. McCaffrey and the rest ... "A Merry Christmas to our dear old Mountain Home! I look upon the picture of the College above my desk and my mind returns to former years when I was like one of those that now, perhaps, pass under your eyes. Fond memories of the past! Again a little boy at College! To rise early by the sound of music, to climb through the dark night up the mountain side to the little church; there to burst upon a blaze of light, upon the sweet music of the Adeste. To gallop through the College with other little boys after Christmas gifts; now we approach the President's room, and the bravest raps. ' Come in,' answers a kindly voice, and finally we enter in a you-go-in-first fashion. The President sits near the genial hearth, and looking over his pamphlet, invites us to the good things on the table, and then gives each a picture ....

"Mais pourquoi m'entrainer vers ces scenes passees? Je veux pleurer et non rever . . . ."

We shall later tell more of these Van Schalckwycks, but his letter makes it appear that Dr. Dielman was not the first to awaken the boys on Christmas Day with music.

Mountain hearts are revealed in this bit of history:

Cumberland, Md. , November 7,1894.

Dear Mountaineer: Today's mail brought me your issue for October, and in it I find a very different "Singing on the Terrace" from that which I knew in " the days of yore." I send you a copy of the original, which lies before me as I write, made verbatim, literatim, et punctuatim.

On the original is this note:

College, March 15,1877.

Dear Eagle, Harkening at last to your kind invitation, I have put my machine in good order and ground off the following lines on "Singing on the Terrace." By the way, why does not Barbour, Moore, Markriter, Sebold or somebody else write a college song? I think Dr. Dielman or Mr. Delaney would willingly write music for it.

While thinking that the Eagle might more judiciously apply a mustard-plaster where it sometimes cauterizes, yet I congratulate it on its independent and fearless course, and on the marked good it has accomplished. Yours truly, Kalakora.

Of course, "Kalakora" is the non-de-plume under which Father P. L. Duffy, '75, usually appeared, and the song is his.

The Eagle was a paper which had its fons et origo in the fertile brain of Douglas Shirley, of Louisville, and it may be I had some little share in it also. Shirley and I wrote the whole of the first issue, I am sure, and we read it to the boys in the "big play-room" one Thursday evening. It was an immense success, and soon every one was sending us jokes, etc., on every one else. I think we had a box in which articles were dropped by their authors, and the box was near the prefects' room. We used manuscript altogether then, but nowadays you fellows take the press ; we wrote for one another, you write for whom?

. . . Some day I shall have the original of " Singing on the Terrace'' framed between two sheets of glass, and then I'll send it to you. In the meantime, I believe there are some "old fellows" who'd like to see the old song in the old words printed in The Mountaineer.

Yours faithfully, William Edward Walsh.

Singing on the Terrace

The day is done, the setting sun No longer lends its golden splendor To college walls where moonlight falls In silver lines with witchery tender. Where players trouped we now are grouped Or pace the terrace pensively; Books are forgot each college spot Is altered in our reverie While singing on the terrace.

The head grows still, sweet memories fill The faithful heart with tender thrill; A strange, sweet spell will softly tell Of other days on strand or hill. We sing our song, and faces throng

Dryad-like among the trees Fond, far-off faces, dear old places Come, summoned by our gladsome glees While singing on the terrace.

O! sweeter tone, O! mother's tone, That often blended with our own, Though older grown our hearts enthrone Our mothers as in hours long flown. Yes, loved yon are, O! voice afar That made our days all music then; Oh! dear, dead days, we sing your praise And call you back to life again While singing on the terrace.

Sing on, sing on! When days are gone Devoted to the love of lore, When we shall bear our share of care, Some dreams may come of days of yore These sunny days whose after rays

Will touch our mood its coldness melt And bring the peace, the sweet surcease Of toil we ever erstwhile felt While singing on the terrace.

Episcopal Residence, Charleston, N. C., November 14, 1894.

Dear Mountaineer: Your kind information that Mr. W. E. Walsh has in his possession the manuscript of " Singing on the Terrace,'' and asks for the publication of the original version, revives many happy memories.

The walls of my study seem to recede and I am on the terrace again to-night. Surely this southern starlight is Mountain moonlight. The quaint old city is still, but the echoes of our songs are heard, and the "after rays" are beaming.

But other memories are evoked. One night after supper, as I was about to turn the Study Hall over to the seminarian in charge, a missile went flying through the air. I stepped over to Willie Walsh, then one of the youngest students, and said: "Willie, did you throw that shoe?" "Yes, sir." "Well, you are a truthful and honorable boy, but a mischievous one. Now, don't give any further trouble." I had not detected the young scientist imparting the initial velocity to the projectile, and so did not care to prescribe the three hundred lines on his admission. He gave no further trouble.

Some time before that I was First Prefect then I strongly suspected that Willie was the presiding genius of a certain select coterie whose admiration for the distant scenery and the delicacies in the vicinity was somewhat inordinate.

Their strategy was Napoleonic, however, and defied the utmost vigilance of the Prefects.

I dispensed the delectable crust and the toothsome gingerbread at the four-o'clock recreation in those days, and on the approach of the excursionists saluted them as the "grub-struck gang," intending by this more or less delicate piece of irony to indicate my knowledge of their harvesting in unlawful fields, and to discourage their enterprising but mistaken efforts.

But they spiked my gun. Some time afterwards I was overwhelmed with a most elaborate document, plentifully garnished with classical quotations in several languages, living and dead (the Greek in its own text), communicating the flattering information that in appreciative recognition of my interest in their organization 1 had been unanimously elected honorary president. Willie wrote the letter, and enclosed a beautiful gold badge with the fateful letters G. S. G. artistically wrought in monogram. I have it still.

It was all done with such exceeding good nature that I could only acknowledge myself vanquished, and the bantering and raiding ceased altogether.

One of those splendid boys, and a bosom friend of Willie's, was Concannon, a genial and gentlemanly student always. The Louisiana magnolias have been waving above his early grave these many summers.

A few years ago Willie Walsh, the brilliant lawyer, worthy son of a worthy sire, called on me here with his young and beautiful bride from Louisiana, the sister of his dead college friend. We drove over the Ashley, under the immemorial oaks of old St. Andrew's, far into the sunset, and the "after rays" touched us and '' memory to melody attuned the hearts once singing on the terrace.''

P. L. Duffy.

In August of 1877 we have reference to a picture bought by President McCloskey of one Broadbent, Baltimore, for five hundred dollars, or four hundred and fifty cash. It was said to be worth two thousand, but considering the state of the treasury and in the light of subsequent events the transaction seems strange. It is a life-size painting of President Purcell in his Episcopal robe.

The Mountain Eagle was published in manuscript this spring, and three copies are preserved. It was a weekly, and seems to have issued about twelve numbers, when it passed, as the editor says, "like Hiawatha into the land of the hereafter."

The devotion to the Sacred Heart was introduced this year by a seminarian "for students who will not or cannot belong to the sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary." The first thirty-eight members were extraordinarily pious, giving part of their recreation to hold meetings, because their society was only tolerated. Edward P. Alien was captain with four lesser officers. Later on it took the form of guards of honor, and at this writing is under a priestly director with assistants called promoters.

"Out of many hearts thoughts will be revealed" by these verses:

Night Prayers on the Hill, Holy Thursday, 1877.

Above in moonless skies no stars are gleaming, To light the night; But down the hill from out the Church goes streaming, The chastened light.

Our upward way in silence we are wending, To evening prayers; While with our higher, lower thoughts are blending, Boys' petty cares.

Aye! Shade and toil round upward pathways cluster, Perchance ' tis best; The toilsome summit won owns brighter lustre, Sweeter rest.

We kneel. The Stabat Mater's notes are filling, The Church, and tell Of tears; and yet with bliss our hearts are thrilling, Beneath a spell.

Cares flee I peace comes; all holy things grow dearer, Our Lord controls; Each thought and Heaven comes a little nearer Our wayward souls.

Hymn, prayers cease. We rise and lights seem throwing, Less mellow light; And still the spell is on the students going, Into the night.

How changed! The moonbeams up the vale have darted; Far down the West The darkness flies. Tired toilers, happy-hearted, Are blest with rest.

For echoes of our hymn hushed winds are listening. O'er hill and dell Reigns peace. Lo! pictured in the moon's calm glistening Behold our spell.

Kalakora. '76. At the Mountain, April 10, 1877.

A brother poet tuned his lyre and sang of:

The Grotto

Come, ye spirits of the mountain, Come, ye drops of dew, Tell me in the singing fountain, How the lovely Grotto grew.

Tell me all you know of Brute, How beneath his magic hand. Yon wild spot grew into beauty Rivaling the Fairy-Land!

On the side of yonder mountain Sleeping 'neath the mellow shades. Where the merry singing fountain Bubbles ' neath the green arcades.

Lies our Grotto. Spot of beauty! Hallowed by the angels' tread; Sweet remembrancer of duty To the Blessed Queen o'er head.

"'Tis the place, and all around it" Tells of Beauty's winged way, How a desert place she found it, How she breathed the waste away.

How she smiled upon the flowers, Made their perfumes sweeter still; How she threw the leafy bowers O'er the sparkling mountain rill.

There the merry songsters flitter 'Mongst the leafy mass of green, There they flit about and twitter, Animators of the scene.

There the rippling of the fountain Tinkles on the midnight air, While the Spirits of the Mountain Hold their elfin councils there.

Silently the silver moonbeams Trickle through the forest green,.Gloriously the molten sunbeams Bathe in gold the gorgeous scene.

All around the balmy flowers Scent the air with fragrance sweet; All above the leafy bowers Shield them from the parching heat.

There 'mongst all this wild unbounded Wealth of nature's purest gems Was "Our Lady's" Grotto founded.

There the tide of sin it stems. For what living human being Can possess a heart so black, Who will not, this Grotto seeing, From his evil ways turn back.

There our mother, Holy Virgin, Fills the place with joy divine, By her look of sweetness urging That with her we all combine.

To gird the throne of Him who made us With our humble grateful prayers, Beseeching Him to come and aid us In escaping Satan's snares.

Harry S. Barbour, '78.

Bishop Elder, writing on January 11, 1878, refers to Dr. McCaffrey's "martyr-brother Thomas;" hopes that the Doctor is mistaken in thinking this his last New Year, and wants to help in placing a stone over Father Xaupi's grave, who saved him from many dangers by never failing to call upon me for my confession. That mixture of non-Catholics with Catholic boys carries a great many grievous evils with it . ."

In a letter of February 5, 1878, Dr. McCaffrey says that "Mr. Watterson has shown activity, decision and energy in reforming discipline and studies, and in many other ways."

It was ordered that no tree be cut down within a quarter of a mile of the College without consent of President and Procurator. On the 1st of May it was agreed that the speeches on Commencement Day were not to be more than seven, besides the valedictory. Fathers McMullen and Keelan entered the Faculty.

Father O'Brien writes from the Novitiate, Frederick, where he was enjoying the hospitality of the Jesuits, that Georgetown would send the degree of D. D. to President Watterson by Father Edward Boursand, his college mate, and this was done at Commencement, 1878.

Bishop Chatard, '53, writes from London to President Watterson that the recently elected Pope, Leo XIII, had sent his apostolic blessing to the College, its president, professors and students: " God reward them all for what they are doing for the cause of Our Holy Religion in America.''

Commencement in 1878 was held, as usual, on the fourth Wednesday of June.

Edward P. Alien '78, Dennis J. Flynn '80 (both afterwards Presidents) and John J. Tierney '80 entered the seminary.

Abp. Gibbons receiving the resignation by Dr. McCaffrey of the pastorship of the old church on the hill, appoints the existing President, Dr. Watterson, to succeed him, writing: "It is a wise custom that the Prest. of Mt. St. Mary's should have pastoral charge of the Church." [Still, as we have seen, the pastor was often another than the President.]

October 22,1878. Certain gentlemen proposed to form an association to pay the college debt which was found to be alarming, and the Council decided to open negotiations with them. Meanwhile the treasurer was authorized to give and renew a note for six thousand dollars. Charles Hoffman '52 wrote repeatedly in 1879 that his appeals to lay alumni had been in vain, and that if anything is to be done it must be through the clergy. Meanwhile Kelly Piet & Co. failed in Baltimore, owing the College $1505, on which 30 per cent, was accepted, and the college treasurer was authorized to give a mortgage to the First National Bank of Hanover and pay the floating debts.

1878. June 28. a soldier of the Lost Cause, now a lawyer in Texas, writes to Dr. McCaffrey: " I was at the Mountain from October 1, '51 to June 28, '56. I look upon it as my home. It is my earnest wish that when wearied with the battle of life; when old age has come upon me; when my mind as well as my body has become enfeebled and tired, to be able to pass the evening of my life beneath the shadow of my dear Mountain Home. If any place on earth could give rest entire to the weary body after death, that place is the quiet little cemetery on the Mountain side, close to the little Mountain Church. 'Tis there I should like to rest and there I and mine shall rest if God pleases ... I was at Gettysburg on the 1st, 2d and 3d of July, 1863. I was also at the Mountain. I saw the dear old Mountain, the loved old College. I saw you and you did not see me. I wore the grey. I was in and among the Federals and I dared not disclose myself. I drank from the fountain on the back-terrace and knelt in the Mountain Church. I did so long to make myself known to you, but my orders were imperative: I was spying, scouting. Do you remember N. of —— ? He was of my party, and together we went all over the College grounds: we visited Clairvaur. We went all through the Yankee army, talked with their generals, ate with their soldiers and carried dispatches for General Meade which we faith­fully handed over to our General Lee . . ."

Dec. 28, :78. William Seton, 3d. had lived five years in Bavaria and was the author of several books. He proposes to write about the early days of the Mountain and asks certain enlightenment of Dr. McCaffrey. He says: "Everyone drinks beer in Bavaria; it is almost against the law to drink water. The Bavarian’s are not a bright, quick-witted people. They move slowly like beer barrels. . . . The government is one vast police department and a man can scarcely buy a new hat without asking the police. This is truth."

Rev. John E. Burke, ex-'78, was the first pastor of the first church for Afro-Americans ever founded in New York. It was made possible through a bequest of Rev. Thomas Farrell, '48, pastor of St. Joseph's Church, that city. Father Burke in 1907 was chosen head of the Afro-American Apostolate in the United States.

This Christmas, Van Buren Hilyard, a student from Washington city, lighted with electricity the cross on the tower of the Church on the Hill.

Richard J. Malone, of the class of '75, graduated at Harvard Law School in "78, receiving 99 per cent, in every subject but one, and in that 96 per cent Mr. C. L. Bradley, at one time Chief Justice of Rhode Island and many years professor at Harvard, writing to Mr. Malone's father, speaks of Richard's examination as of "wonderful excellence." "Of one other student only within my long course as professor at Harvard College have I had occasion to speak in these terms. "Mr. Bradley's letter was dated at "Harvard Law School. Cambridge, June 28, 1878," and addressed to R. J. Malone, Lancaster, Pa.

Chapter 62 | Chapter Index

Special thanks to John Miller for his efforts in scanning the book's contents and converting it into the web page you are now viewing.